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A five-year epic that's been a lifetime in the making for Darren

Culture

For acclaimed musical theatre director Darren Yap, bringing The Last Five Years to La Boite fulfils a long-held dream.

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The heartfelt musical about two New Yorkers in their 20s who fall in and out of love over the course of five years, brings Brisbane musical lovers out of their covid-induced deprivation to an intimate theatrical experience.

The prolific director has overseen lavish productions all around the world since the 1990s, from The Sydney Olympics 2000 to Ghost The Musical in Tokyo and productions of Miss Saigon and Mamma Mia.

But since returning to Australia in March 2020 unable to finish rehearsals in Tokyo for Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat as the Prime Minister called for all Australians overseas to come home, Yap has ached to produce a smaller show that reconnects audiences to the raw experience of theatre.

“What audiences want, is to be together,” Yap said. “There’s nothing like it.

“It’s not watching the television and watching Netflix by yourself or with your family. You’re in a theatre together experiencing a moment together and that yearning, is very much what this piece is about.

“A yearning to be in that moment in time with those characters, but also because it’s a love story and it’s very intimate. The piece makes you think about your life and makes you think about your partner or the person you love and I think that’s really needed right now.”

He says the heartfelt musical about love lost and gained will resonate with audiences of all ages.

“When you feel like this was the one or he, she was the one and something happens, it changes. It’s devastating,” he said.

“It’s like a car crash and I don’t even think it’s just the twenties. I think it happens at any point in your age.

“That’s why the piece is so successful, I reckon, and I think people really understand that moment when someone doesn’t see you in the same way or someone doesn’t love you enough, but they once did. I think those moments are very identifiable.”

Written by Tony Award-winning playwright Jason Robert Brown, the audience bears witness to both joy and despair as the protagonists each tell their side of the story: Jamie in chronological order, Cathy recounting hers in reverse.

Yap said in that sense the play is completely different to the movie of the same name that was released five years ago, taking audiences on a distinctly different journey.

“The actual theatre show, Nance, they never really arc genuinely together until they get married. And that’s kind of, if this makes sense, the conceit of the show,” he said.

“I think that’s why it’s very loved – is it’s almost like Cathy starts at the end of their relationship and Jamie starts at the beginning of their relationship, if that makes sense. So it plays with time.

“Memories don’t necessarily have to be accurate, just as relationships are. And so it’s quite biased in a way, if that makes sense. So we’re kind of playing with that idea too.”

A live band sits on stage playing the musical score with the performers, adding to the sense of familiarity.

The two person cast bring undeniable chemistry and powerful performances to their La Boite debuts – with recent Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University graduate Danielle Remulta as Cathy, and returning home to Australia after success in the UK, actor and musician Robert Tripolino as Jamie.

A member of La Boite’s Artist Company, Yap is pleased to finally be in Brisbane rather than endless zoom meetings, able to create a show which he said will strike a chord with Brisbane audiences.

“We want the audience to really feel part of this story, to make this work a real conversation with them and draw them in through story and music to really feel those moments of joy and misery,” he said.

The Last Five Years plays La Boite from May 30 to June 18.

 

 

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